The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is studying the possibility of moving more games of the national football team in the provinces this year, according to its president Mariano Araneta.
With the low turnout of fans in the country’s hosting of the group stage of the Suzuki Cup last November, the local football governing body is looking for ways to boost fan support for the Azkals in their games this 2017.
“We really need fan support. So, we really need to go to a place where the fans are there. When you look at countries like Indonesia, when they play the fans are really there,” Araneta told reporters in an interview.
He explained that they are on the process of examining possible venues in the different provinces that can accommodate the Azkals in their international games.
Araneta mentioned that possible locations they are looking into is in Cebu, a football hotspot in the Visayas region, or in the country’s football capital in Bacolod.
“Hopefully, for the Asian Cup, there is a stadium being constructed in Cebu or the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod, if they improve it, then we can play our games there,” he held.
On the other hand, the head of the PFF clarified that the final decision on whether to hold more games in the provinces will still rely on the approval of the organization’s Board of Governors.
Consequently, during the Southeast Asian Championship preliminary round, the Philippines hosted a total of five games at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan while staging one game at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
In the first game of the Azkals in Bulacan for the said tournament, a total of 4,339 spectators attended the goal-less draw against Singapore, which is the highest of all the turnouts in the entire three game dates.
However, the subsequent games of the Azkals did not gather much attention to the paying fans as only 2,068 watched the 2-2 draw against Indonesia while 3,185 gazed at the 0-1 loss against eventual champs Thailand.
Araneta attributed the low number of attendees in the games of the national team to the inaccessibility of the 20,000-seater stadium situated North of Metro Manila.
“We really had a hard time in the Philippine Sports Stadium because although it is really a great venue, the accessibility for the fans is quite hard,” he ended.